WBEZ | Lifestyle http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The tale of the two-flat http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164044282&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast version of the story includes an excerpt from a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009#related" target="_blank">more extensive examination of Chicago-area wooden porches used as a means of egress</a>. To catch every episode, <a href="http://wbez.is/VIdLFv" target="_blank">subscribe to our podcast</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it&rsquo;s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses.</p><p>What about Chicago? Well, it&rsquo;s a city known for its skyscrapers, for sure. Outside of downtown, though, you won&rsquo;t find soaring steel and glass. In the neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s wood, brick and stone. The real workhorse of Chicago&rsquo;s built environment is the modest, ubiquitous (yet fascinating) two-flat.</p><p>You know the building. Two stories, with an apartment unit on each floor, usually with bay windows greeting the street through of a facade of brick or greystone. Most were built between 1900 and 1920.</p><p>Two-to-four unit apartment buildings make up 27 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock, according to data from the <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">DePaul Institute of Housing Studies</a>. The rest is split evenly between single-family homes, condominiums and buildings with five or more units.</p><p>We recently got a question that returns some wonder to this everyday building. Our question asker, who chose to stay anonymous, is particularly interested in why the two-flat became so popular. And she wants to know who calls these buildings home. As she observes in <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">the question she submitted to Curious City</a>, they&rsquo;re somewhere between suburban houses and big apartment buildings:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago-area two-flats straddle the line between apartments and homes. Who were they originally designed to serve? Has that changed?</em></p><p>The answer to that last part? It&rsquo;s revealed in a story, one you&rsquo;d miss if you choose to focus on the city&rsquo;s skyline or crane your neck to see the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. It turns out the advent of the humble two-flat mirrors the development of Chicago&rsquo;s middle class. And in many ways it still does today, but in the wake of the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, that may be changing.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Bohemian building boom</span></p><p>Through the late 1800s, European immigrants made up almost half of Chicago&rsquo;s population. Hundreds of thousands of Polish, German and Czech people settled here, often making their first home in narrow one-story buildings usually made out of wood. Those came to be called worker&rsquo;s cottages.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wbez.is/1q1Znnk" target="_blank"><strong>Related: How the size of the &quot;foreign born&quot; population has changed in the city.&nbsp;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>As Chicago&rsquo;s big industries grew &mdash; Sears, McCormick Reaper and Western Electric, to name a few &mdash; so did the population. Soon it made sense for developers and architects to build up as they built out. Hence two- and three-flat buildings, which offered denser housing, and gave the owners a shot at some extra income from renting out their extra unit.</p><p>We found several architects from the era who built two-flats by the dozens on spec, meaning they weren&rsquo;t designing for a specific client, but acting as &ldquo;owner-architect&rdquo; in the parlance of records from the era. Many of them were Bohemian. (Today, the former Bohemia is part of the Czech Republic).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/czeckad.jpg" title="An ad for Lawndale two-flats steered toward Eastern European immigrants. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>In fact, along with Jen Masengarb of the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> &mdash; whom we partnered with on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">this voting round</a> and helped us research this story &mdash; we found an old article from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> that shows the connection between the city&rsquo;s booming Czech population and its sprawling housing market. A headline from <a href="http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/28540648/" target="_blank">Oct. 17, 1903</a> crows: &ldquo;BOHEMIANS IN LEAD AS BUILDERS OF HOMES.&rdquo;</p><p>At the convention of the Building Association league of Illinois, Bohemian Frank G. Hajicek boasted of &ldquo;$12,000,000 in shares in force&rdquo; held by the &ldquo;the Bohemians of Chicago.&rdquo; It was a point of pride for the 28-year-old resident of the South Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Never in the history of the world, I believe, have people in a foreign land established themselves in homes so securely and rapidly as have the 200,000 Bohemians who make Chicago their home,&rdquo; said Hajicek in 1903.</p><p>In the heavily Eastern European Southwest Side neighborhoods of Pilsen (named for the Bohemian city of Plzeň), North Lawndale and South Lawndale, many of those homes were two-flats.</p><p>With Masengarb&rsquo;s help, we dug up some documents at the<a href="http://www.chicagohistory.org" target="_blank"> Chicago History Museum</a>, including a 1915 &ldquo;Book of Plans&rdquo; that enticed homebuyers to order away for all the materials needed to build a two-flat sized for a typical Chicago city lot.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/bookofplanslarger.png?X-Amz-Date=20140820T230405Z&amp;X-Amz-Expires=300&amp;X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&amp;X-Amz-Signature=0e3a3a6a0b29d425259052b3703515ab7598cbe280873635b935a1af08c36ea4&amp;X-Amz-Credential=ASIAIN5BXQNEZUY6CGKQ/20140820/us-east-1/s3/aws4_request&amp;X-Amz-SignedHeaders=Host&amp;x-amz-security-token=AQoDYXdzEB0agAL1JM9/evUYo4zSi5EslSe4w5BCdnblR6iWx/OMP5VfT%2BTAXjgZ5GaXATLEghwaxfzb23bqamb0oLMxy3ZkcNKr8Rx/VTnvM1pL6cqjnGhtdXbrNNdAN//OVwvuG7g2Dyi6mPMO4fVgnN4V8WkR8hTLLZCT7gvfClyS20d68gLiDZG0dNSfoTtV3ksuk60iO3zpM0HSgfdeUtqRArO0%2B%2BJVHEQ3MfYTDZ7ylKDcSYE1PACMgJ0UMv%2Bs0Iv5/yThsTk9v63rXfQCZe7sPT4L2QEDttAAWsnkXzPcwAKv8UDLe4axr%2BmfDZV8AoMj9nEj2iGWosSLs6DQHO2kqCBOauAzIOv%2B058F" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bookofplansinset.png" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click for larger view. " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;Our design No. 144 is a two-family flat designed for a money making proposition,&rdquo; begins one such ad. &ldquo;Anyone wanting a comfortable home and at the same time a good income on the investment will do well to consider this proposition.&rdquo;</p><p>Many, it seems, did consider it. A 1910<em> Tribune</em> article reported $38 million of flat building, &ldquo;a new high record in this field, exceeding by over $4,000,000 the figures of 1908, which also established a new record.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A &lsquo;workhorse building&rsquo; in a western paradise</span></p><p>Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that it often wasn&rsquo;t young first-generation immigrants buying Chicago two-flats. Instead it was those who immigrated to Chicago as children in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century had built up enough money to graduate from renting.</p><p>&ldquo;What appears to have happened is that the Czech population was essentially moving further west, out of Pilsen and other sort of areas, Maxwell Street areas, to newer land, I guess you could say,&rdquo; says Matt Cole of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which administers the <a href="http://www.nhschicago.org/site/3C/category/greystone_history" target="_blank">Historic Greystone Initiative</a>. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the name California [Avenue] comes from &mdash; it was like their western paradise.&rdquo;</p><p>Jen Masengarb and I take Cole up on his offer to point out one such western paradise: <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/North+Lawndale,+Chicago,+IL/@41.8582574,-87.7139721,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e328a692e8e51:0x26c3604dc3282d76" target="_blank">the part of North Lawndale known as K-Town for its K-named avenues (Kostner, Kildare, Keeler, etc.)</a> near Pulaski and Cermak Roads. In 2010 K-Town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its collection of classic Chicago apartment buildings.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/masengarbktown.jpg" title="Reporter Chris Bentley, Jen Masengarb and Matt Cole with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago meet in K-Town to learn about Chicago's two-flats. (Photo courtesy Anne Evans) " /></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a microcosm of Chicago architecture,&rdquo; says Cole, pointing out stately greystones, single-family brick residences and flats in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Prairie to mashups of any and all architectural detailing popular between 1900 and 1930. &ldquo;The reality is that the two-flat and three-flat are the workhorse building of this period of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>During our neighborhood walk, Masengarb points out that for a lot of early 20th century Chicagoans, the two-flat was a vehicle of social mobility.</p><p>&ldquo;This two-flat is that bridge, I think, between that older 1880s, 1870s housing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And then the bungalow which was the even bigger dream, and a bigger yard, my own space and nobody living upstairs, clomping around. &ldquo;</p><p>Consider Frank Stuchal. Census data shows in 1888 he immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia as a 13-year-old with his parents and two sisters. The census is taken every 10 years, and every 10 years as his income increased &mdash; Stuchal was first employed as a typesetter, then a print shop foreman, and finally business manager for a newspaper &mdash; he moved further west along Cermak avenue. In 1900 the 24-year old Stuchal rented an apartment at W. 23rd Street and South Spaulding Avenue with his two sisters. In 1920 he and his wife owned a two-flat, half of which they rented out to a German family. By 1930 he and his wife were raising their son in a bungalow they owned in the southwest suburb of Berwyn.</p><p>The 1920 census shows the street lined with two-flats occupied by second generation Czech, German, and Polish immigrants in their 40s and 50s, raising Chicago-born teenagers. Stuchal&rsquo;s neighbors included butchers, policemen, bookkeepers, bricklayers and librarians.</p><p>That two-flat Stuchal owned in 1920 was in K-town, near 21st Place and Keeler Avenue. It was built in 1916, and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank">it&rsquo;s still there</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Capture_0.JPG" style="width: 610px; height: 234px;" title="Frank Stuchal's two-flat was built in 1916. (Google Streetview/Google)" /></a></div><p>Today it&rsquo;s owned by Arquilla Lawrence, whose parents moved in when she was two years old.</p><p>&ldquo;And I love it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been my home all my life, ever since I was two we moved into the neighborhood. I&rsquo;ve been here my whole life except when I went away to college.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many African-Americans, Lawrence&rsquo;s father moved to the neighborhood from the South &mdash; Oklahoma, in his case &mdash; during <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html" target="_blank">The Great Migration of blacks to northern cities </a>during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II the neighborhood became the first African-American neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so well kept,&rdquo; says Corey Brooks, who also grew up in K-town. &ldquo;Because most of [the property owners] migrated from the South. This is where they put their roots in, so they all know each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Brooks introduces us to his wife, Rita, who is on her way to check in on her mom. Both of them moved back to their childhood homes in order to care for their parents. Turns out it&rsquo;s not just the neighborhood&rsquo;s property ownership that has lasted all these years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my childhood sweetheart,&rdquo; says Rita, pointing to Corey. &ldquo;He was my first boyfriend! Then he got married to someone else, I got married, I lost my husband, and then two years ago we found each other and got married.&rdquo;</p><p>Before we leave K-Town, Jen Masengarb surveys the mishmash of early 20th century architectural styles on display.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a metamorphosis or an evolution. We&rsquo;re gonna try this over here on this block, and then this is five years later we&rsquo;re gonna try this &hellip; You can just see it evolving in the way that we live and the decisions that we&rsquo;re making in terms of what our families need, what is stylistically impressive,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This architecture is us, it&rsquo;s a reflection of us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Losing equity: Is the workhorse getting exhausted?</span></p><p>So the form of two-flats was basically a response to economics and demographics, as well as the size and shape of a Chicago city lot. The buildings no longer house predominantly Czech and other Eastern European immigrants, but today&rsquo;s tenants share a lot with their neighbors across the decades &mdash; many of them used two-flats to build community and a little bit of personal wealth in the form of equity. The two-flat was a bridge to a better life for the families that built Chicago as we know it.</p><p>One hundred years later, however, it&rsquo;s not clear how much longer two-flats will be able to fill that role.</p><p>K-town is well kempt, thanks in part to incentives from its historic district status. But two-flats are expensive to maintain. And since the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, a lot of two-flats in other neighborhoods around Chicago are sitting vacant or being bought by developers who don&rsquo;t occupy the units.</p><p>And sometimes the ownership moved in the other direction. Eric Strickland tells us he bought a K-Town two-flat in the 90s. When he purchased the building on 21st Place, it was divided into three units. Once he&rsquo;d saved up enough money, Strickland converted the two-flat into a single-family home. He lives there now with his wife and daughter.</p><p>During the housing crisis two-to-four unit properties were disproportionately impacted by foreclosure. And Geoff Smith from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a> says two-flats don&rsquo;t really make economic sense for new development, so they may well be lost to history in lower-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;What you see more commonly is a single-family home targeted for owner occupancy, or you see a larger rental building,&rdquo; Smith says.</p><p>He adds that, if older two-flats fall into disrepair, there will likely be no two-unit rentals to replace them. &nbsp;&ldquo;The concern is that in some of these more distressed areas, where there is a substantial stock of these buildings, there is a risk in some neighborhoods that this kind of housing could be lost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That prospect matters. According to data from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a>, today there are more than 76,000 two-unit apartment buildings in Chicago. In some neighborhoods &mdash; Brighton Park, New City, and South Lawndale &mdash; they still make up more than two-thirds of the housing stock, as well as a substantial proportion of the city&rsquo;s affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://housing-stock.housingstudies.org/#13/41.8759/-87.6436" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/depaulmap.PNG" style="height: 300px; width: 620px;" title="Click to view full map from DePaul's IHS. " /></a></div><p>Prices for two-to-four unit buildings in distressed areas of Chicago fell roughly 70 percent between the pre-crash peak and current figures. That means many homes in those areas are worth less than they were in 1997, says Smith.</p><p>So if the &ldquo;money making proposition&rdquo; that two-flats once promised to working families is more elusive these days, what will become of the lower-income neighborhoods where these historic buildings are most prevalent?</p><p>&ldquo;Because of changing population dynamics, the changing nature of the city, in some areas you are going to see demand in decline. You may not see it recover, and there just may not be an economic value to some of these properties,&rdquo; says Smith. &ldquo;Hopefully some prescient, some really far forward-seeing investor can come in and say &lsquo;these properties have value for the long-term.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Follow him at cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research for <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">the Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> and contributed reporting to this story. </em></p><p><em>Correction: A draft of the text for this story misstated the time period during which the majority of Chicago two-flats were constructed. The correct timeframe is between 1900 and 1920.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 Cabbage War: West Ridge vs. Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nsU07hchILU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163030116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We receive a good number of questions about Chicago neighborhoods: Among other things, we&rsquo;ve learned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">how their boundaries are formed</a>, how the city&rsquo;s roster of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">neighborhoods grew through annexation</a>, and how the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538" target="_blank">ethnic composition of neighborhoods can sometimes change </a>surprisingly quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648#laura" target="_blank">Laura Jones Macknin</a> of the Ravenswood neighborhood sent along one of the more puzzling queries along these lines. Laura had been working on a health-related survey project in several Chicago neighborhoods. For reporting purposes, her team needed to distinguish between West Ridge and Rogers Park, which are tucked into the northeast corner of the city.</p><p>As Laura researched the neighborhoods&rsquo; dividing line, she bumped into historical references to an altercation between the two areas &ndash; one with a vegetative flair. The issue took hold of her enough that she sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was behind the so-called Cabbage War in West Ridge and Rogers Park? I would like to know more because, you know ... Cabbage War.</em></p><p>Well, the Cabbage War had very little to do with cabbages per se. And though it&rsquo;s easy to dismiss such an oddly named conflict, this 19th century showdown involved something that neighborhoods and even entire cities continue to fight over today: parks and the taxes to create and maintain them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Unfriendly neighbors</span></p><p>As West Ridge and Rogers Park evolved from being independent villages to neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 19th century, residents carried animosity towards one another. Rogers Park was urbane compared to the decidedly rural West Ridge, which grew a considerable amount of &ndash; you guessed it &ndash; cabbage. Rogers Parkers would hurl the &ldquo;Cabbage Heads&rdquo; epithet toward West Ridgers, and they prided themselves on the fact that they lived in a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; part of town where booze was outlawed. West Ridge, on the other hand, was home to several drinking establishments. The West Ridgers considered Rogers Parkers to be effete snobs, or &ldquo;silk stockings&rdquo; in the 19th century parlance.</p><p>This cultural divide persisted as things came to a head on the political front in 1896. The two areas (now Chicago neighborhoods) had proposed competing plans to create and fund parks. Notably, at this time, there was no unified Chicago Park District, and it was common for local communities to create separate parks authorities, which would sometimes compete for tax dollars. During the campaign to decide which parks plans would prevail, West Ridgers and Rogers Parkers exchanged harsh words and &mdash; in at least one case &mdash; deployed brutal tactics.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s stop the tale here. This is no <em>Game of Thrones</em> epic. Unlike that unfinished opus, the chronicle of Chicago&rsquo;s Cabbage War doesn&rsquo;t need umpteen books: You can get the gist (and all the drama) in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsU07hchILU&amp;list=UUkpMCLrDFxb1n74GOOw81-w" target="_blank">our short animated story</a>!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="laura"></a>Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question asker FOR WEB.png" style="height: 245px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>Did you hear Laura Jones Macknin&rsquo;s voice at the top of our animated story? There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;re actually familiar with it. Laura sent her question to us while working in a healthcare outreach program, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2669689/">but she&rsquo;s also an actor</a>.</p><p>She&rsquo;s also performed voice work in local advertisements, including some for Central DuPage and Swedish Hospitals.</p><p>Laura wrote us early about her interest in the Cabbage War story. &ldquo;It&#39;s so odd and whimsical (Cabbages on poles! Cabbagehead slurs! Farmers vs. Northwestern!) that I wanted to know more about it,&rdquo; she wrote.</p><p>She also pressed us for a little <em>Game of Thrones</em> reenactment but, alas, the historical record might be a bit too scant to sustain a book or TV series.</p><p><em>Illustrator and reporter Simran Khosla can be followed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/simkhosla" target="_blank">@simkhosla</a>. Sincere thanks to the <a href="http://rpwrhs.org/" target="_blank">Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society</a> for expertise, materials and interviews.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 Swept from their homes, Chicago's Latinos built new community http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/45010154&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago is famous for its ethnic neighborhoods. And there&rsquo;s a funny thing about them. A neighborhood&rsquo;s identity can seem like it has been in place <em>forever</em>, even when big ethnic shifts took place just one or two generations ago. This is how many Chicagoans see Pilsen and Little Village, a corridor with the biggest concentration of Latinos in the Midwest. These neighborhoods have so much vitality &mdash; dense housing, bustling commercial strips, packed playgrounds &mdash; that it seems like Latinos must have been there for ages. A curious citizen named <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#CM">CM! Winters-Palacio</a> was wondering how long, so she asked us:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why are Latinos concentrated in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods? When did it happen?</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LUCY%20FINAL.jpg" style="float: right; height: 328px; width: 400px;" title="Near West Side resident Rosie Valtierra holds her goddaughter there on the day of her baptism in the mid-1950s. City Hall has embarked on massive construction projects that will raze much of the area. Valtierra and many other displaced Latinos will end up in Pilsen. (Photo courtesy of Rosemarie Sierra)" />We answered the <em>when</em> part of the question just by looking at census numbers: Pilsen did not become mostly Latino until the 1960s; Little Village didn&rsquo;t until the 1970s. Answering <em>why</em> those changes happened took a little more work. We interviewed experts, searched newspaper archives, pounded Pilsen&rsquo;s pavement and tracked down some of the neighborhood&rsquo;s first Latino residents. In our audio story (above), Lucy Gutiérrez, 87, tells us about bringing her family to Pilsen when the place was still populated mainly by Central and Eastern European descendants &mdash; including the Bohemians whose forebears named it after Plzeň, a city in what is now the Czech Republic. Our research also led to some text snapshots from the history. The snapshots begin on Chicago&rsquo;s Near West Side, which included the city&rsquo;s largest Latino enclave just a few decades ago.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">In old neighborhood, the beginning of the end</span></strong></p><p><strong>FEBRUARY 15, 1949</strong>: A Chicago housing official complains about residents refusing to leave a 14-block stretch from Desplaines to Paulina streets to make way for a new superhighway along Chicago&rsquo;s Congress Street. The official, Detlef E. Mackelmann, says some would not go &ldquo;until the buildings next door were being torn down.&rdquo; The highway&rsquo;s first section, completed in 1955, will displace thousands of people. It will be among several massive construction projects that will raze much of the Near West Side, including a Mexican neighborhood that dates back to the 1920s. The projects will include three expressways, a university campus and public-housing developments. Some of those Mexicans will move to Pilsen, a neighborhood just south. They will form the nucleus of what will become a much bigger Latino community. The Congress highway, for its part, will eventually be named the Eisenhower Expressway.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">1</a></strong></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20TAYLOR%20STREET%20FINAL.jpg" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20TAYLOR%20STREET%20PIES%20FINAL.jpg" style="margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px;" title="(WBEZ illustrations by Erik Nelson Rodriguez)" /></div></div><p><br /><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">White exodus from Pilsen makes room for newcomers</span></strong></p><p><strong>OCTOBER 18, 1953</strong>: St. Procopius, a 72-year-old Czech parish in Pilsen, rededicates its school with a Sunday dinner. The meal includes turkey, dumplings, sauerkraut, rye bread and kolacky. The music includes the Czech anthem &quot;Kde domov můj?&quot; and an Antonín Dvořák composition. Although the school has begun to enroll some of Pilsen&rsquo;s first Latino children, today&rsquo;s program includes no hint of their cultures. And Rev. Peter Mizera, the St. Procopius priest, has been complaining to the archdiocese about &ldquo;the recent infiltration of the Mexicans.&rdquo; But Pilsen&rsquo;s white population is declining and growing older as young families head to suburbs. St. Procopius and other parishes will have to open their doors to Latinos. By 1955, six Pilsen parochial schools will be enrolling Mexican children. Over the next two decades, several Pilsen parishes will retool themselves, sending priests to learn Spanish in Mexico, building altars and shrines to the Virgin of Guadalupe, even bringing mariachi music into masses. Some other parishes, slow to adapt, will close.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">2</a></strong></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Campus construction pushes more Latinos into Pilsen</span></strong></p><p><strong>MARCH 19, 1961</strong>: Led by a mariachi band, hundreds of Mexican protesters march from St. Francis of Assisi Church and tie up Near West Side traffic. The protesters slam a City Hall plan to replace their neighborhood with a University of Illinois campus. They blame Mayor Richard J. Daley and shout, &ldquo;Down with Daley,&rdquo; &ldquo;Daley sold us out&rdquo; and &ldquo;Respeten nuestros hogares&rdquo; (Respect our homes). The protest is part of a much larger effort to derail the university plan. Italians, the area&rsquo;s biggest ethnic group, are leading the resistance but Mexicans are also visible. Roughly 4,800 of them live in the census tracts the city wants the university to take over. The resistance will fail. On May 10, the City Council will designate 106 acres for the campus. Some of the Mexicans will move a few blocks west, but campus expansions will displace them again. Many will end up in Pilsen. The University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus, meanwhile, will open in 1965.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">3</a></strong></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Chicano movement builds neighborhood&rsquo;s new identity</span></strong></p><p><strong>APRIL 24, 1969</strong>: More than 100 residents of Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood gather for a public meeting of the Latin American Alliance for Social Advancement, known by its Spanish acronym, ALAS. The meeting occurs at Howell House, a community center focused for decades on Czech immigrants. At the meeting, ALAS endorses Arthur Vázquez to lead Howell House; he will be its first Mexican-American director. The meeting also develops strategies to improve Pilsen schools, expose police brutality and publicize a national grape boycott. The organizing reflects two major changes in Pilsen. First, Mexicans have been pouring into the neighborhood for two decades. Along with the arrivals from the Near West Side, many have come from South Texas or various parts of Mexico. A smaller Latino group in Pilsen has roots in Puerto Rico. The 1970 census will record the neighborhood&rsquo;s first Latino majority. The other big change is the rise of the Chicano civil-rights movement. Reflecting that change, Howell House will get a new name: Casa Aztlán. <span style="font-size: 11px;"><b><u>4</u></b></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2%20MEETING%20TONIGHT%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><strong style="font-size: 22px;">Latino community expands west to Little Village</strong></p><p><strong>OCTOBER 30, 1979</strong>: At the urging of Latinos and veterans, the Chicago Park District board agrees to a proposed memorial plaza honoring Manuel Pérez Jr., a World War II hero killed by enemy fire at age 22 and posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Pérez grew up on the city&rsquo;s Near West Side long before his neighborhood was razed and before many of its Mexican residents moved to Pilsen. The city will build the plaza in 1980 in Little Village, a Southwest Side neighborhood known as the &ldquo;Mexican suburb&rdquo; because of its proximity to Pilsen, its larger homes, and its fast-growing Latino population. Next year&rsquo;s census will show that Latinos constitute the majority of Little Village residents. The Pilsen and Little Village corridor now has the largest concentration of Latinos in the Midwest.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><b><u>5</u></b></span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3%20PLAZA%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Neighborhoods help put Latino in Congress</strong></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/web%20PilsenFoundGutierrez1crop_0.jpg" style="height: 242px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><strong>MARCH 17, 1992</strong>: In a Democratic primary election for U.S. House, Chicago Ald. Luis V. Gutiérrez (26th Ward) easily defeats his strongest challenger, Juan Soliz. A 1990 court order required a Chicago district with a Latino majority. Shaped like an earmuff, the district covers the Pilsen-Little Village corridor and Puerto Rican neighborhoods on the Northwest Side. Gutiérrez, who was an ally of the late Mayor Harold Washington, has Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s backing in the Congressional race. After the general election, Gutiérrez will become the first Midwest Latino in the House. Although his family is from Puerto Rico, whose residents are born with U.S. citizenship, Gutiérrez will champion immigrant political causes and maintain strong support in Pilsen and Little Village. <span style="font-size: 11px;"><b><u>6</u></b></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Pilsen remains Latino, but for how long?</span></strong></p><p><strong>MAY 20, 1997</strong>: In the name of job creation, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) leads a rally for a plan that would extend the University of Illinois at Chicago southward to the edge of Pilsen. The Daley administration, meanwhile, is planning a tax-increment financing district to boost industry in Pilsen. Some residents are linking those efforts to gentrification on the neighborhood&rsquo;s east end. Those residents say the changes are threatening Pilsen&rsquo;s Mexican-American character and pushing rents and property taxes too high. This summer, artists led by Hector Duarte (<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">7</a></strong></span>) will transform an outdoor wall at 1805 S. Bishop St. into a colorful mural called &ldquo;Stop Gentrification in Pilsen.&rdquo;&nbsp;The mural will depict United Farm Workers co-founder César Chávez and Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata flanking a multigenerational Pilsen family, a pushcart vendor and anti-gentrification protesters. Such efforts will not stop affluent newcomers from moving into Pilsen but, for years to come, the neighborhood will remain the cultural heart of the Chicago area&rsquo;s Mexican-American community. <span style="font-size:11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">8</a></strong></span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="color:red"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4%20MURAL%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="CM"></a>Our question comes from: CM! Winters-Palacio</span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cm winters FINAL.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 185px; float: left;" title="" />African-Americans in Chicago cannot help but look at the city&rsquo;s most heavily Latino neighborhoods with some envy, according to WBEZ listener CM! Winters-Palacio, who lives in Auburn Gresham, a South Side neighborhood. &ldquo;If you drive through Little Village or Pilsen, they&rsquo;re thriving with little local stores,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;When you go on the South Side, it&rsquo;s a totally different experience.&rdquo;</p><p>Winters-Palacio chairs Malcolm X College&rsquo;s library department and tells us her interests include community development and racial segregation. So what does she think of our answer to her question? Pilsen&rsquo;s Latino identity is &ldquo;relatively new,&rdquo; Winters-Palacio says. &ldquo;It helps dispel one of the myths.&rdquo; Namely, that a strong community must have long historical roots.<a id="sources"> </a>Winters-Palacio says Pilsen and Little Village provide hope for her part of town.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Notes</span></strong></p><p><strong>1.</strong> Lilia Fernández, <em>Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago</em> (University of Chicago Press, 2012). &ldquo;City&rsquo;s &lsquo;DPs&rsquo; sit tight in path of big projects: Evacuation notices just a &lsquo;wolf cry&rsquo; to them,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (February 16, 1949). <strong>2.</strong> Deborah Kanter, &ldquo;Making Mexican Parishes: Ethnic Succession in Chicago Churches, 1947-1977,&rdquo; <em>U.S. Catholic Historian, Volume 301:1</em> (Catholic University of America Press, 2012).&nbsp;<strong>3.</strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;Protest rally today against U. of I. campus,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (March 20, 1961). &ldquo;Council OKs W. Side U. of I. site, 41 to 3: Crowd in gallery boos action, vows fight,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (May 11, 1961). Fernández, op. cit. <strong>4.</strong>&nbsp;Fernández, op. cit. Administrative History, Bethlehem Howell Neighborhood Center collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago. <strong>5.</strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;New post of Legion honors Mexican-American hero slain on Luzon,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (June 30, 1946). &ldquo;Slain vet who killed 75 Japs is honored in memorial service,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (February 14, 1949). &ldquo;Ordinance requesting the City of Chicago to convey the Manuel Pérez Jr. Plaza to the Chicago Park District,&rdquo; <em>Journal of the Proceedings of the Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District, </em>1979-1980. <strong>6.</strong> John Kass, &ldquo;Gutiérrez picks up Daley&rsquo;s backing for Congress,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Tribune</em> (December 10, 1991). Lou Ortiz, &ldquo;Gutiérrez coasts toward big win in Hispanic district race,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> (March 18, 1992). <strong>7.</strong>&nbsp;Editor&#39;s Note: Duarte is married to WBEZ reporter Linda Lutton. <strong>8.</strong> Gary Marx, &ldquo;Opposition brewing to UIC expansion; proposal may drive out the poor, foes say,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Tribune</em> (March 12, 1997). Ernest Tucker, &ldquo;Latinos urge UIC to move forward with expansion,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> (May 21, 1997). Teresa Puente, &ldquo;Pilsen fears upscale push may shove many out,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Tribune</em> (November 4, 1997).</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>. <a href="http://twitter.com/ero_nel" target="_blank">Erik Nelson Rodrigue</a><a href="http://twitter.com/ero_nel" target="_blank">z</a>&nbsp;is an&nbsp;illustrator and graphic designer in Chicago.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538 Sister cities: Chicago's international family http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sister-cities-chicagos-international-family-110498 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158996525&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We use the word &ldquo;sister&rdquo; when we talk about our siblings or sometimes our best friends, people who are so close they might as well be family. But what does it mean to call a <em>city</em> a sister?</p><p>Maybe you&#39;ve seen a TV news bite announce reps from a sister city are in Chicago to drum up business or support a new cultural venture. Or, maybe someone tipped you off that the showy row of flags at O&#39;Hare International Airport hail from Chicago&#39;s sister cities.</p><p>Chicagoan Kelly Pedersen has been wondering what this phenomenon&rsquo;s all about, so he converted his long-standing curiosity into this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago currently has 28 &quot;sister cities&quot; around the globe. What is the process of determining a &quot;sister city&quot;, and what are the benefits?</em></p><p>We looked into the nearly 60-year history of citizen diplomacy with Chicago&rsquo;s sister cities. It turns out Chicago has the most active sister city program in the country, and it receives at least one request every week from someone hoping to join its global family.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">How did the program start?</span></p><p>President Dwight D. Eisenhower kicked things off in 1956, when he developed a White House conference on citizen diplomacy. The idea was to help mend relationships among former combatants in WWII and the Korean War by creating people-to-people exchanges, says Leroy Allala, executive director of <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Sister Cities International</a>. The non-profit organization manages the sister city program for Chicago.</p><p>The city signed its first agreement with Warsaw, Poland, in 1960. Allala says it made sense &ldquo;that most of our early sister city partnerships were with cities in places like Europe and Japan, countries that had been impacted by World War II.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>With 28 agreements in hand, Chicago has the largest sister city program in the United States, Allala says. The city&rsquo;s network spans the globe from Accra, Ghana, to Milan, Italy. Los Angeles has 25 sister cities, but it doesn&rsquo;t run as many programs or exchanges as Chicago, Allala says. He adds that Laredo, Texas, has also challenged Chicago on its claim but that&rsquo;s because &ldquo;they are on the border with Mexico. Every time they send an ambulance to a border town, they sign a sister city agreement. That&rsquo;s not really what sister cities is about.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayors Richard J. Daley, Jane Byrne and Harold Washington all signed sister city agreements while they were in office, but the program really took off under Mayor Richard M. Daley, who signed 21 of Chicago&rsquo;s 28 sister city agreements.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/germany%20for%20WEB.jpg" title="Mayor Richard M. Daley and Hamburg, Germany Mayor Dr. Henning Voscherau sign a sister cities partnership in 1994. (Photo courtesy Chicago Sister Cities International)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Expanding Chicago&rsquo;s family: Who makes the cut?</span></p><p>Eileen Hubbell was the director of protocol and director of international relations under Mayor Richard M. Daley. As she recalls it, the organic process &ldquo;is really often compared &nbsp;to a marriage and every agreement has its own love story, if you will. And there are a number of factors that come into play. There have been times over the years when Chicago was pursued and other times when we were doing the pursuing.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>When Daley came into office there were seven sister cities and by the time he left office, there were 28. He also signed an executive order in 1990 to create a volunteer board of directors for Chicago Sister Cities International that would focus on expanding sister city relationships. Hubble says Daley felt strongly that the relationships should mean something, and he believed that &ldquo;you just don&rsquo;t sign a piece of paper and forget about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Hubble says Mayor Daley worked with the city&rsquo;s ethnic communities, business leaders and civic institutions to identify potential cities. &ldquo;He really made it known that Chicago was a global city, that we needed to build on that, and that everyone was welcome at the table to build on that initiative,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Cindy Mitchell was the first chair of the committee involved with Casablanca, Morocco. She agrees that Mayor Daley was eager to promote Chicago overseas and went after many potential sister cities. &ldquo;There were some turn-downs but not too many,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I truly believe &mdash; and I may be very naive &mdash; that it was not political, that he genuinely enjoyed these kind of relationships. I think he enjoyed visiting these countries and getting to know their mayors.&rdquo;</p><p>So at times Chicago approached a potential sister, but in some cases they approached Chicago. An example of the latter would be when the mayor of Hamburg, Germany, proposed a sister city agreement. His cause gained support from Alderman Gene Schulter, who was of German heritage. Chicago signed that partnership in 1994.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size:18px;">Map: Chicago&#39;s sister cities, 2014</span></em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2+from+19fE5LVOtn4N6CJvdv5FbFyplcy2f2vxPinw4Hvsi&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=32.83198545051575&amp;lng=51.75944563631526&amp;t=1&amp;z=2&amp;l=col2&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="250" scrolling="yes" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=CARD&amp;q=select+*+from+19fE5LVOtn4N6CJvdv5FbFyplcy2f2vxPinw4Hvsi&amp;tmplt=3&amp;cpr=3" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em style="font-size: 9px;">Source: <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/sister-cities/" target="_blank">Chicago Sister Cities International</a></em></p><p>In other instances, Chicago&rsquo;s ethnic communities took the initiative. In 1991 a group of leaders from Chicago&rsquo;s Ukrainian community wanted to demonstrate support for Ukraine, which had just gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.</p><p>Under the Iron Curtain, Ukrainians hadn&rsquo;t really been allowed to travel, but in the early &lsquo;90s they began visiting Chicago. At the same time, many Chicago-based companies were exploring investment in Ukraine, says Marta Farion. She was part of the group of Ukrainian Americans who felt the best way to support a newly-independent Ukraine would be through a sister city agreement.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought, &lsquo;Wouldn&rsquo;t it be wonderful to help give people some hope by making Kiev a sister city and open up a door for person-to-person exchange,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Farion.</p><p>The group presented the idea to Mayor Daley, who agreed. Farion&rsquo;s husband, Ihor, then hand-carried a letter to the mayor of Kiev asking to partner with Chicago. Kiev agreed later that year.</p><p>Chicago uses a loose set of criteria to determine whether a city would be a good fit as a sister city. Among them is the potential partner&rsquo;s size; Chicago, Allala says, would never partner with a small village of just 1,000 people, for example.</p><p>Another criterion: whether Chicago and the potential partner already have strong cultural connections. This came to play in the selection of Warsaw in 1960, says Allala. &ldquo;Chicago is known to have the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So we consider ourselves very much a Polish city and I&rsquo;m sure at that time considered Chicago and Warsaw to be a natural fit.&rdquo;</p><p>Through the years, Chicago has also considered cities that reside near a body of water or that are also viewed as &lsquo;second cities&rsquo; in their home country, Allala says.</p><p>Another factor taken into account is whether Chicago has a local community that will take ownership of the relationship and ensure that it won&rsquo;t just lay dormant. According to Sam Scott, the Board Chairman of Chicago Sister Cities International, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s very important that we have representation from a city or a country here.&rdquo;</p><p>The ultimate decision on whether to establish an agreement, however, rests with the mayors of both cities. When they agree, they sign a formal document and hold a special signing ceremony to mark the occasion.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SISTER cities flags for web dan xoneil.jpg" title="Flags representing Chicago's sister cities on display at Daley Plaza in 2013. (Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil)" /></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="termination"></a>Can a sister city agreement be terminated?</span></p><p>Chicago has never terminated a sister city agreement, but that&rsquo;s not to say things have always been tension-free. Farion says when the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy protesters in Beijing at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Sister Cities&rsquo; board considered ending Chicago&rsquo;s agreements with Shenyang and Shanghai as a sign of protest.</p><p>But ultimately, Farion says, the board decided to pull back because &ldquo;the whole role of the sister city program is to improve relations between people. It is not a government-to-government relationship; it is a people-to-people relationship.&rdquo;</p><p>Earlier this year, a City Council committee passed a resolution asking Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to suspend the sister city agreement with Moscow. Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposed that resolution, and aldermen approved a substitute resolution declaring the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;solidarity with the Ukrainian community.&rdquo;</p><p>Sam Scott testified before the city council supporting the continuation of the relationship with Moscow.</p><p>As Allala puts it: &ldquo;Signing a sister city agreement is like a marriage, but we don&rsquo;t have divorce in our world.&rdquo;</p><p>Other U.S. cities have terminated agreements, however. According to Megha Swamy, a public relations specialist for Sister Cities International, this doesn&#39;t happen very often. The group doesn&#39;t have official numbers, but it&#39;s aware of this happening at least once in the past five years. In 2013, the city council in Lansing, Michigan, voted 7-0 to adopt a resolution calling for an end to its sister city ties with St. Petersburg, Russia, because of legislation passed there which banning expressions of &ldquo;homosexual propaganda.&rdquo; The law criminalizes &ldquo;public action aimed at propagandising sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister Cities International says the organization <a href="http://www.sister-cities.org/sites/default/files/SCI%20Policy_Political%20Disputes.pdf">does not encourage termination </a>of agreements.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">What are the benefits?</span></p><p>Among the benefits of the Sister Cities program, according to Scott, is &ldquo;a pride in ownership of various immigrant communities in the city.&rdquo; He adds, &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very good for people to be able to stand up and say: I am whatever I happen to be, proud of it, and Sister Cities helps to promote that.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister cities committees organize numerous activities, including student exchange programs. Sullivan High School in the Rogers Park neighborhood has an ongoing &ldquo;sister school&rdquo; relationship with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gymaltona.de" target="_blank">Gymnasium Altona</a>, a high school in Hamburg, Germany. Sullivan Principal Chad Adams says that he wants to see the students&rsquo; worlds expand, and that travel benefits students. The school values this exchange program, Adams says, because of the long-term effect &ldquo;that kids&rsquo; minds are more global, and they&rsquo;re more thoughtful about humanity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB Justine Ogbevire at Sullivan - possible gang graffitti on piano.jpg" title="Justine Ogbevire recently visited Hamburg, Germany as part of the sister cities program. (Photo by Katie Klocksin) " /></p><p><span style="text-align: center;">Justine Ogbevire, a Sullivan student, was part of a student trip to Hamburg this May. &ldquo;I feel like it was a huge breather. ... &nbsp;I feel like my mind is open,&rdquo; she says. The overseas flight was her first time traveling on an airplane. She was nervous during takeoff but ultimately concluded &ldquo;airplanes are not that scary.&rdquo;</span></p><p>According to Sam Scott, a sister city relationship can also have economic benefits. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s amazing how well culture and education tie together with business,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You facilitate the dialogue around the business opportunity over some of the other issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Leroy Allala says partnerships have expanded economic development within Chicago&rsquo;s Sister Cities network, and have also promoted Chicago as a place to do business: &ldquo;In addition to the great culture, education, arts, and tourism, business is also happening. So that&rsquo;s another benefit of the program.&rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes the agreements have literally altered how the city looks. Case in point: the window sills of the Chicago Cultural Center. Mayor Daley got the idea for them after a visit to Hamburg. That German city&#39;s bridges are lined with flower boxes, says Rolf Achilles, a member of the Hamburg committee for Chicago Sister Cities International. He was on the trip with Daley when he got the idea to do something similar in Chicago. Achilles says a group of engineers worked for more than a year in Chicago, trying to find a way to put the flower boxes on Chicago&rsquo;s movable bridges. But, he says, they couldn&rsquo;t find a way to make them work when the bridges would be raised, so Daley settled on the windows of the city&rsquo;s buildings instead.</p><p>Eileen Hubbell says the reason Chinese is taught in some Chicago public schools is also because of our sister cities program. She says when Mayor Daley made a trip to visit Shenyang and Shanghai, where he saw Chinese kids studying English. She says Daley came to the conclusion that he didn&rsquo;t want &ldquo;our kids here to be left behind.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What&rsquo;s next?</span></p><p>No sister city agreement has been signed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel entered office in 2011. Chicago Sister Cities International is currently evaluating its selection process.</p><p>The program was recently moved out of the Department of Cultural Affairs and placed under the direction of World Business Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;World Business Chicago is very much business oriented. Sister Cities is more culturally and educationally oriented. The two work very very well together,&rdquo; says Scott. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;ve been working on a strategic plan. ... And we&rsquo;ll start looking at how we grow the Sister Cities program going forward to benefit both the cultural and educational piece as well as immigration and tourism for sister cities, tie that together with the growth of business opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re wondering which city is most likely to be Chicago&#39;s next partner, we couldn&rsquo;t get anyone to provide a specific name. However, Sam Scott says they are looking to grow in South America. Rumor has it that Sao Paolo, Brazil, has been hoping to become part of the Chicago family. We&rsquo;ll just have to wait and see. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pederson%205%20for%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 214px; width: 170px; float: left;" title="Kelly Pedersen, who asked Curious City about Chicago's sister cities. " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Kelly Pedersen</span></p><p>Kelly Pedersen of Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood has a long-standing interest in international relations. Although there&rsquo;s a lot of negative news in the international arena, Kelly says &ldquo;my interests lie in looking &nbsp;for instances where an outcome is positive, or some ground is gained toward cultural, or economic, or diplomatic resolutions.&rdquo; Naturally, the Sister Cities program caught Kelly&rsquo;s attention. He wondered, for example, how our sister cities are chosen. Kelly noticed that some of our Sister Cities were in countries with large immigrant populations in Chicago such as Warsaw, Poland; Galway, Ireland; and Milan, Italy.</p><p>Eventually, Kelly decided &ldquo;there has to be more to the process than just having a sizable cultural representation: I wonder what else is involved?&rdquo; So, he teamed up with Curious City to find some answers.</p><p><em>Corrections: An early draft of this story misspelled a source&#39;s name. The correct spelling is Eileen Hubbell. An early draft of this story suggested a major event would occur later this summer. The next major sister cities event, the Consular Ball, is set for December of this year.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Alexandra Salomon is a producer for Worldview, WBEZ&rsquo;s daily global affairs program. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexandraSalomo" target="_blank">@AlexandraSalomo</a>.</em></p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her: <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sister-cities-chicagos-international-family-110498 Meet the CTA's super-friendly conductor http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/meet-ctas-super-friendly-conductor-110466 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false; show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: The podcast episode available above includes two stories. The first looks at why Chicago is a transit hub for the Amish. The profile of CTA conductor Michael Powell begins at 7 minutes, 36 seconds.</em></p><p>The idea for Caroline Eichler&rsquo;s Curious City question first came to her in 2011, shortly after she had finished college and first arrived in Chicago. She didn&rsquo;t know anyone except her roommates and co-workers. &ldquo;And this is the first city I&rsquo;ve ever lived in, too,&rdquo; she says. It&rsquo;s little wonder that she felt &mdash; by her own admission &mdash; &ldquo;pretty terrified and overwhelmed.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>One of the first people Caroline came to recognize in the city was the voice of a certain chatty train conductor during her commute on the CTA&rsquo;s Red Line from Rogers Park to the Jackson stop downtown. She remembers the conductor reminding passengers to grab their umbrellas if it was raining, or he&rsquo;d jokingly advise passengers to take their children with them when they left the train. &ldquo;One time he said &lsquo;May the force be with you.&rsquo; That really cracked me up,&rdquo; she says. Since Caroline only knew a handful of people in the city, even the more reserved announcements such as &ldquo;I hope you&rsquo;re having a great day!&rdquo; were really nice, she says.</p><p>All of this interest in a comforting voice led Caroline to send us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Who is the super-friendly train conductor on the Red Line?</em></p><p>While tracking down an answer, we learned that the man behind the kind words used the daily commute to comfort himself, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;I just started talking&rsquo;</span></p><p>The conductor is Michael Powell, who began working for the CTA in 1978. Getting a job with the CTA was &ldquo;like a dream come true,&rdquo; Powell says. He&rsquo;s always loved trains, and he even had toy trains when he was growing up.</p><p>Talking over the train&rsquo;s PA system came naturally to Powell. &ldquo;I just started talking,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s spur of the moment, I really don&rsquo;t rehearse them. If it feels like I can say something silly or something half-serious, I&rsquo;ll say it.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell is not shy about sharing difficulties he had early in life. The oldest of four children, Powell says his mother &ldquo;had a rough time raising four children, not having a college degree or any education formally.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I could never make her happy,&rdquo; Powell remembers. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t like myself because I didn&rsquo;t get any compliments.&rdquo; Eventually Powell went to counseling. &ldquo;I just had to get over my fear or rejection, I think that&rsquo;s everybody&rsquo;s problem,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;When I started getting attention from the train it was like: Hey, I&rsquo;m getting the love or the attention that I didn&rsquo;t have growing up.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell&rsquo;s philosophy about relating to the passengers is straightforward. &ldquo;I just try to make everybody feel good,&rdquo; he says. Knowing people aren&rsquo;t always happy to be on their way to work, he would sometimes give a morning pep talk. &ldquo;Some people feel like they&rsquo;re down in the dumps. They&rsquo;re like &lsquo;Wow-wee, I had to come to work today.&rsquo; And I sometimes say, Yeah, you know, it would be nice to stay home today, but we have to work. What&rsquo;s for dinner tonight? Make sure you have everything with you! Just, you know, look on the bright side of life,&rdquo; he says.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MichaelPowell%20for%20WEB.jpg" title="Michael Powell, a CTA conductor for 36 years, was known by commuters for his cheerful quips. (Photo courtesy Katie Klocksin)" /></p><p>Over the years Powell has made an impact on his passengers, and he&rsquo;s been written about many times. When I first introduce him to Caroline, he presents a large binder full of his press clippings, print-outs of mostly-positive comment threads on articles featuring him, cards passengers had sent him, and comments people sent to the CTA. Caroline says she&rsquo;s impressed with how much Michael&rsquo;s comments resonated with people &mdash; enough that many people actually wrote to the CTA with positive feedback.</p><p>&ldquo;He brings out a good side of Chicago,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">End of an era</span></p><p>Fans of Powell and his conversational style as a train conductor may be disappointed to learn that he retired at the end of 2013. He still spends time with a group of friends he calls &ldquo;train club.&rdquo; They get together once a week for breakfast, and they also run model trains and watch train movies together. Michael also became a grandfather this May. He misses seeing his passengers every day, &ldquo;yet it&rsquo;s nice to be a grandfather. It&rsquo;s nice to spend more time at home,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Caroline asked Powell if he had a fantasy train he&rsquo;d like to drive. &nbsp;&ldquo;Not really,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I feel like I&rsquo;ve done enough driving in my life. Let someone else do the driving.&rdquo;</p><p>As their time together ends, Caroline tells him: &ldquo;The Red Line community of train riders will miss you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll miss them too,&rdquo; he replies. &ldquo;I had fun.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Caroline%20Re-Touch%20for%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 242px; width: 200px;" title="Caroline Eichler, who asked about the super-friendly Red Line conductor. (Photo courtesy Caroline Eichler)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Caroline Eichler</span></p><p>Caroline Eichler moved to Chicago in 2011, after graduating from Kenyon College. She quickly noticed Michael Powell&rsquo;s distinctive style on the Red Line&rsquo;s train announcements.</p><p>&ldquo;He was one of the first people in city I&rsquo;d recognize,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t even see him, I would just would know he was there from his voice.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell was a topic of conversation among her roommates as well. They would text each other when they caught Powell&rsquo;s train on their morning or evening commutes. &ldquo;I think I&rsquo;m the most excited about it, but we&rsquo;re all in on it together,&rdquo; Caroline says.</p><p>After three years, Caroline is more settled in the city; she&rsquo;s involved in several musical endeavors, including working as the Music Librarian for the <a href="http://cso.org/Institute/CivicOrchestra/Default.aspx" target="_blank">Civic Orchestra of Chicago</a>. She&rsquo;s also a violinist, and she sings with the vocal ensemble <a href="http://www.lacaccina.com/" target="_blank">La Caccina</a>.</p><p><em>A <a href="http://chirpradio.org/podcasts/person-of-interest-michael-powell" target="_blank">version of this story </a>originally aired on ChirpRadio.org. Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/meet-ctas-super-friendly-conductor-110466 Passing through: Chicago's Union Station as Amish transit hub http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: In producing this story, producer Katie Klocksin quotes several people of Amish background. In a deviation from most journalistic practice, Klocksin and editor Shawn Allee chose not to publish the sources&rsquo; names out of respect for the Amish culture&#39;s longstanding premium on humility, as well as possible social consequences for participants. The decision was made in consideration of comments on the issue made by Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish.</em></p><p>Paul Vaccarello of LaGrange, Illinois, sees Amish people when he passes through downtown Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station &mdash; the nexus of several Amtrak and Metra commuter rail lines.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve just always been curious about where they&rsquo;re going, why they&rsquo;re here, if they&rsquo;re actually coming to Chicago or if this is a stop on their way to somewhere else,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This led him to ask Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is Chicago a large transportation hub for Amish travelers?</em></p><p>Reporting an answer provided Paul an opportunity to hear from people that Chicagoans and suburbanites don&rsquo;t ordinarily cross paths with. Members of the religious group seek to maintain a close-knit rural lifestyle and, though there are Amish settlements sprinkled throughout the Midwest, the nearest one lies 90 miles from downtown Chicago. As we approached an answer &mdash; by checking in with experts and Amish travelers themselves &mdash; we couldn&rsquo;t help but feel we were meeting our regional neighbors for the first time.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A separate pattern of life</span></p><p>Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish, reminded us that adherents belong to a Protestant religious community that is &ldquo;sometimes referred to as &lsquo;the old order Amish,&rsquo; which means they have tried to maintain what they consider the old patterns of life.&rdquo; Typically, they limit their use of modern technology and their communities tend to be in rural areas. These &ldquo;old patterns of life,&rdquo; Nolt said, &ldquo;would be things that encourage community and cooperation and collaboration.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt noted, though, that there are few technologies that the Amish consider wholly bad. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s their attempt to try to control technology or engage technology on their own terms,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p>Relevant to Paul&rsquo;s question, Amish people generally don&rsquo;t own or drive cars, although some will hire a vehicle and driver for transportation. It&rsquo;s common for the Amish to travel on trains or buses. &ldquo;The problem isn&rsquo;t the <em>thing</em>,&rdquo; Nolt said. &ldquo;The problem is when we own and control something, then, that heightens our sense of individual autonomy.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt described an aspect of Amish life that posed a problem for reporting this story: &ldquo;Amish people, when speaking to members of the media, almost always decline to be identified by name or photographed in ways that would highlight them as an individual. Their concern there is one of humility, of not appearing to present oneself as a spokesperson for the whole group, not wanting to call attention to themselves.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traveling by train<a name="map"></a></span></p><p>Paul and I made several trips to Union Station and found Amish people each time. Most were happy to talk with us, provided my large microphone was turned off. Most people, as predicted, declined to give their names. Everyone we talked to confirmed our theory: Chicago <em>is</em> a hub for transportation among the Amish. The people we interviewed at Union Station were all waiting to switch trains. One woman put it succinctly: &ldquo;A lot of Amish travel from one state to the other on Amtrak. &hellip;Every train comes into Chicago and leaves Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Our map can clarify this: There, you can see how Amtrak lines cross near or through midwestern Amish communities. Nolt added, too, that more than 60 percent of the Amish live in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania: states with Amtrak lines. So Paul was onto something: Amish people, by avoiding cars, travel by train throughout the Midwest and the country. Many Amtrak trains converge in Chicago, thus Amish regularly wait for trains and transfers at Union Station.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/amish/index.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><em><strong>Map: U.S. counties with extant Amish settlements as of 2010, overlaid with unofficial map of Amtrak rail system lines.</strong> Amish population data: <a href="http://www.rcms2010.org/index.php" target="_blank">Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies</a>.&nbsp;Rough Amtrak line map: <a href="https://www.blogger.com/profile/17241478144408980328" target="_blank">Rakshith Krishnappa</a>.</em></span></p><p>Nolt points out that Amish people aren&rsquo;t likely to use the word &ldquo;vacation.&rdquo; Instead, he says, they talk about trips. &ldquo;I think on one level it&rsquo;s because &lsquo;vacation&rsquo; suggests leisure type activity that doesn&rsquo;t fit with their rural way of life,&rdquo; he said, adding, &ldquo;Their worlds are not as neatly divided as many of the rest of ours are between work and leisure, home and work. There&rsquo;s much more fluidity and overlap between the domains of their life.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt says it is common for a long-distance trip to be centered around business travel. There are all-Amish trade shows, for example, which are similar to standard trade shows except they are hosted by a local community and attendees stay with local families. &quot;Most people bring their whole family and it kind of turns into a reunion of visiting,&quot; he said.</p><p>For the most part, though, Paul and I met people traveling to visit family members in other states. We met a large family returning home to Kansas from a wedding in Indiana. An Amish woman from Ohio was traveling with several of her grandchildren to visit her cousin and see the Grand Canyon.</p><p>A few Amish people we met were seeking medical care, including a man from Kentucky. &ldquo;We were in Mexico for medical purposes,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to see it, but medical expenses in the States anymore are so phenomenal that an ordinary person cannot afford it.&rdquo; He was returning from Tijuana after a successful operation.</p><p>Another medical traveler, an Amish man with a salt-and-pepper beard and a constant grin, cracked jokes with us for a while. After we parted ways with him, though, we ran into him throughout our stay at Union Station. It&rsquo;s not an exaggeration to say he seemed to know every Amish person there that day, which perhaps reveals a benefit of Union Station&rsquo;s being a hub: For the Amish, it provides a space to serendipitously meet far-flung neighbors.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Paul%20Vaccarello%20-%20courtesy%20of%20Paul%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 254px; width: 190px;" title="Paul Vaccarello asked Curious City about the Amish at Union Station. (Photo courtesy Paul Vaccarello)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Our question comes from: Paul Vaccarello</span></p><p>Paul Vaccarello told Curious City he visits Union Station about twice a month, adding that &ldquo;pretty much every time, I see groups of Amish people.&rdquo; While he was curious about whether the Amish travel by train, he also wondered if Chicago was ever the destination for Amish people on the road. &ldquo;It was interesting to hear they sometimes stop in Chicago to sightsee, go to the Sears Tower and John Hancock building,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Paul said he&rsquo;s not someone who would normally talk to strangers in the train station, and striking up a conversation with someone from a clearly different background can feel like crossing a barrier.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s cool to see they&rsquo;re so willing to talk, and that they don&rsquo;t even really see the barrier,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 The tale of Chicago's tattoo holdout http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-chicagos-tattoo-holdout-110185 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dAa8i2XoKQc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/149565713&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: The podcast episode available above includes two stories. The first story explains <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/jackpot-chicagos-hold-pinball-industry-and-artistry-110175">Chicago&rsquo;s fascinating role in pinball industry and imagery.</a> The story about Chicago&rsquo;s history of tattooing begins at 8 minutes, 45 seconds. Enjoy!</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to avoid Chicago&rsquo;s tattoo culture. Getting ink &mdash; from simple line-drawings to Asian dragons &mdash; has practically become a rite of passage, and tattoo parlors have become staples of the area&rsquo;s street corners, not unlike barber shops and nail salons.</p><p>Which is why it&rsquo;s so hard to believe that for a single, nearly ten-year stretch, there was only one legal tattoo shop in Chicago. That&rsquo;s right. Just <em>one</em>.</p><p>Dan Zajac, from Highland, Ind., couldn&rsquo;t believe it either, and he asked to hear more about the lone shop that had stood its ground:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Strange as this may now seem, from the mid-1960&#39;s through the early 1970&#39;s Chicago had one &mdash; just one &mdash; legal tattoo parlor. How did this happen to be the case?</em></p><p>To get answers we tracked down people intimately familiar with Chicago&rsquo;s tattoo history. From them, we learned how a lone tattoo shop withstood age-restriction laws, angry sailors, and a mass exodus of tattoo talent ... only to emerge as a single (albeit important) shop in a large field of competitors.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Our sources</span></p><p>Our principal sources &mdash; Chicago-based tattoo artists Dale Grande and Nick Colella &mdash; are familiar with the operation alluded to in Dan Zajac&rsquo;s question: <a href="http://chicagotattoo.com/home.html" target="_blank">Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co.</a>, which these days is located at 1017 W. Belmont Ave. Its former status as the only game in town is broadcast loudly and clearly by neon signs out front.</p><p>Dale Grande lived the history involved in our question, as he&rsquo;s owned or co-owned Chicago Tattoo since 1973.</p><p>Nick Colella worked at Grande&rsquo;s shop for about 20 years before opening his own, <a href="http://greatlakestattoo.com/" target="_blank">Great Lakes Tattoo</a>, in 2013. The walls at Colella&rsquo;s shop are festooned with Chicago tattoo memorabilia in hall-of-fame fashion, arranged in glass cases like vintage shrines. It&rsquo;s safe to say he&rsquo;s Chicago&rsquo;s unofficial tattoo historian, and much of it involves Chicago Tattoo.</p><p>Both Grande and Colella helped with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAa8i2XoKQc" target="_blank">our video</a>, but the interview segments below provide even more insight.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Tats and two histories</span></p><blockquote><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong> There are two histories to Chicago tattooing. The first part is from the late 1800s until tattooing went underground in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s.</p></blockquote><p><strong>How the Chicago tattoo scene looked in the 1930s.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong> South State Street had been this honky tonk area. It was all burlesque strip joints and diners and arcades. And in the arcades were the tattoo shops.</p><p>All this was supposedly run by the mob, so every square inch was used for stuff. &nbsp;If there was a hallway underneath the stairwell, you could put a tattooer there.</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tats%20shop%20in%20Chicago%20%28R.%20Johnastone%29.jpg" title="State Street's tattoo shops mainly catered to sailors in the Great Lakes area. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella). " /></div><p><strong>The <a href="http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrmw/installations/ns_great_lakes.html">Naval Station Great Lakes</a> lies 40 miles north of Chicago. Young sailors would make their way downtown.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong> &nbsp;So, they would come to the city to party, get tattooed and go back to the base. And they are all 18 to 20-something years old. And it was a sailor&rsquo;s tradition to get tattooed.</p><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong> The sailors would get tattooed on their arms. On State Street you&#39;d actually pick [a tattoo] off the wall then go tell the arcade manager what you wanted to pay for it &mdash; a couple bucks &mdash; then get a ticket and get [your tattoo] done. There were so many sailors and people down there, so there were hundreds of tattooers in and out over the years.</p></blockquote><p><strong>In 1963 the state of Illinois raised the legal age to get a tattoo from 18 to 21.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong>&nbsp;New York City had a spout of hepatitis that they claim came from some tattoo shops. Chicago [sic] saw this and decided to raise the legal age law [to get a tattoo] from 18 years old to 21 years old.</p><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>I always heard it was about cleaning up State Street. The state realized, you know, this is downtown. There&rsquo;s money here to be made in real estate. They didn&rsquo;t want strip clubs or tattoo shops there.</blockquote><p><strong>The legal changes forced customers to seek tattoos elsewhere.</strong></p><blockquote><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CLIFF SHOP FOR WEB 2.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Cliff Raven's tattoo shop before it incorporated in 1973. It was the only shop in Chicago. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella)" /><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>That 18 to 21 change didn&#39;t allow those tattooers to tattoo any sailors anymore, so that business was gone. They all left Chicago and went west, east or south. Chicago became a ghost town for tattooing because you couldn&#39;t make any money off these sailors anymore.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>Eventually, Cliff &mdash; Cliff Raven &mdash; who had Cliff Raven Studio, was the only one in the city.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>Cliff Raven was a guy who got into tattooing in the late 50s and early 60s by a guy named Phil Sparrow, who had a major standalone shop on State Street. When tattooing went underground in Chicago, Phil briefly had a shop on Larrabee Street then went to Milwaukee [Wisconsin].</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>When everybody left, Cliff stayed because he was a Chicago man. He was a great person, talked to everyone, knew a little bit about everything. He had a B.A. from Indiana University. He was one of the great artists &mdash; I mean real artists &mdash; who got into the art of tattooing at that time.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>I think Cliff stayed because he learned here and knew people involved in not just the tattoo scene. He was involved in leather and stuff. It was his home and he knew what he wanted.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>He was the first openly gay tattooer, too. He was pretty big in the gay community at that time. He was part owner for a couple of bath houses &hellip;</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>That&rsquo;s why he set up shop where he did [W. Belmont Ave]. Boystown, you know?</blockquote><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CLIFF WEB.jpg" style="height: 357px; width: 350px;" title="(Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella)" /></div><p><strong>Cliff Raven&rsquo;s art changed Dale Grande&rsquo;s life.</strong></p><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>The first time you stepped into the shop you could see the art on the walls was so much better [than other tattoo art at the time]. I think I was about 20 years old at the time and I said, &ldquo;I gotta get a tattoo here.&rdquo; So I did.<p>While I was getting the two pieces from Cliff I asked him: &ldquo;How do you get into this business? Mind if I hang around &hellip; be a gopher or something?&rdquo;</p><p>He goes, &ldquo;Sure, why not.&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t think he thought I was serious, but I started coming in after work nearly every day.</p></blockquote><p><strong>That was Spring of 1973. By fall of the same year, Cliff and his business partner at the time, Buddy McFall, had offered Dale Grande partial ownership. The shop&rsquo;s name changed from Cliff Raven Studio to Chicago Tattoo Co., Inc.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong>&nbsp;I vividly remember the day were talking about it. I said, &ldquo;What about Chicago Tattoo? That says it all.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s the name.</p><p>At that time the tattoo industry was very closed-mouth, but we would come to work and there&rsquo;d be a line already waiting for us to open the door. Something you&rsquo;d expect being the only shop in the city. &nbsp;</p><p>It was crazy. We&rsquo;d get all these artists stopping in from all over the country just to see Cliff and talk to him. I would just sit there in awe and watch and listen and meet all these artists. It was really uncanny. It was great.</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP790331060.jpg" style="width: 325px; height: 350px;" title="Dale Grande, left, working at Chicago Tattoo. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella)" /></p><p><strong>By the late 1970s, Chicago Tattoo had attracted many new artists. Some opened their own tattoo shops in Chicago.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong>&nbsp;When these shops started opening, first thing I would do was hop in the car and drive down there to see what was going on. And hopefully I didn&rsquo;t see anything; it was just a rumor. It was always a bad feeling when someone opened up then.</p><p>There was lots of good, stiff competition. You just gotta stay better. And we did; we stayed better &hellip; I wish those days were back again because now you&rsquo;ve got something like 200 shops in and around the city.</p></blockquote><p><strong>Cliff Raven, who operated during the industry&rsquo;s lowpoint in Chicago, left an indelible mark on the local industry.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong>&nbsp;The tattooing landscape would not be anything without Cliff and Dale and Chicago Tattoo. People who are tattooing now don&rsquo;t know where it all started from. They don&rsquo;t know that there was a core group of people who are monumental in this city&rsquo;s tattooing history.</p><p>A lot of tattooers now take it for granted that these guys were the only tattooers in town. They think &ldquo;Oh! They got all the business, that&rsquo;s great!&rdquo; &hellip; but they also got all the flak in town; all the b.s. They were those few guys going to work every day tattooing when it wasn&rsquo;t cool, when it wasn&rsquo;t on TV. They just did it because they had a drive to tattoo.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s why I keep this history alive - because no one else does. You go to Chicago History Museum and look up early photos of State Street and they only have three images, but I have the originals of them.</p><p>Chicago wants to put that area of history under the rug so bad. The city&rsquo;s always changing, but you have this history here that&rsquo;s important &hellip; to some people.</p></blockquote><p><strong>Cliff Raven left Chicago to open a new tattoo shop in California in 1977. Raven invited Dale Grande to join him.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>It didn&#39;t feel right. I&rsquo;ve been here for all of my adult life. And I&rsquo;m still here. And we&rsquo;re still operating. We&rsquo;re still Chicago Tattoo. I just try to let others know that we&rsquo;re still around.</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Capture.JPG" style="height: 285px; width: 500px;" title="Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co. is located at 1017 W. Belmont Ave. (Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" /></p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Our question comes from: Dan Zajac</span></p><p>Dan Zajac is a lawyer who lives in Highland, Ind. He had known about Cliff Raven and Chicago Tattoo for a while, he says, but couldn&rsquo;t put his finger on why the shop was ever the only one in Chicago. He had even done his own research on the topic.</p><p>&ldquo;At least half the books in any public library on the subject of tattoos have Cliff Raven in the index,&rdquo; Dan wrote in an email. &ldquo;Many of the tattoo artists in various parts of the country (except the younger ones) seem to claim that they had studied under Cliff.&rdquo;</p><p>While we invited Dan to come along with us to investigate his question, he was only reachable by email. But he did let us know there&rsquo;s a reason why he&rsquo;s on the hunt for answers. A personal reason: Chicago&rsquo;s legendary tattoo artist was his uncle, Cliff Raven.</p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 14 May 2014 19:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-chicagos-tattoo-holdout-110185 Jackpot! Chicago's hold on pinball industry and artistry http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/jackpot-chicagos-hold-pinball-industry-and-artistry-110175 <p><p>Ever since Kevin Schramer started playing pinball in the 1970&#39;s, he noticed that many machines listed their manufacturing addresses in the Chicago region. The addresses have kept him wondering for decades, so when he learned about Curious City, he just had to ask:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why was the Chicago area home to all the major pinball manufacturers during the heyday of pinball?</em></p><p>After digging into relevant history books, interviewing industry experts, and emptying plenty of change into the area&rsquo;s <a href="#map">remaining pinball machines</a>, we can firmly say that Kevin&rsquo;s on to something: From the modern pinball industry&rsquo;s Depression-era beginnings, to its modest market presence today, Chicago has been pinball&rsquo;s center of gravity. (The <a href="http://www.ipdb.org/search.pl">Internet Pinball Database</a> lists 554 top-rated pinball machines and at least 98 percent of them were made in the region.) But the answer as to <em>why </em>involves an interplay of history, geography and art.</p><p><strong>Insert coin: Gottlieb and Williams</strong></p><p>To say Chicago was the hub of the pinball industry isn&rsquo;t to say that the game was invented in the Windy City. Historians trace early pinball machines to a centuries-old French billiard game called <em>bagatelle</em>, while the modern coin-operated pinball industry got its start in the early 1930s. During the Great Depression, many people were &ldquo;out of work, looking for inexpensive entertainment for a penny,&rdquo; explains pinball historian Roger Sharpe. Enterprising tinkerers and businessmen began to fill that need with simple countertop games.</p><p>In these early days, many of the industry&rsquo;s key players were travelling businessmen such as David Gottlieb, whose machine <em>Baffle Ball</em> was one of pinball&rsquo;s first big hits. <em>Baffle Ball</em> was a simple game. There were no flippers, lights, or bells; you just pulled the plunger back and hoped that the ball bounced into the right hole. Gottlieb moved throughout the Midwest to sell his machines, but his operation was based in Chicago.</p><p>Many of pinball&#39;s now-familiar qualities, such as replays and tilt mechanisms, were considered whiz-bang when they were first developed by engineer Harry Williams in the 1930&rsquo;s. Williams got his start in California, pranking his business partners by adding electricity to his machines and connecting the games to telephones; in some cases, the right shot would make the phone ring. Once the ringing machines proved to draw more money than their silent counterparts, machines with sound-making elements became the norm. While Williams tried working from California for a while, he eventually decided that he would need Chicago&#39;s competitive edge if he wanted to make a name for himself in the pinball industry.</p><p>&quot;It took too long for his games to get to the East Coast and by the time it got to the East Coast other people had already knocked it off,&quot; says Sharpe.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/baffle ball resized and tweaked.jpeg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Baffle Ball and Ballywho were two of pinball’s earliest successes. The machines were flipper-less, but brought in a stream of pennies anyway. (Flickr/Rob Dicaterino)" />Chicago had a lot to offer the budding industry. Raw materials were widely available, including lumber and wiring, as well as steel from nearby Gary, Ind. The city&#39;s large immigrant population became the basis of the factories&#39; work force. Once the machines were finished, the city&#39;s railroads made them easy to distribute across the country, and Lake Michigan&#39;s ports allowed the machines to be sent around the world as pinball found a market overseas. David Gottlieb and Harry Williams founded some of the industry&rsquo;s most successful companies in Chicago, and named the firms after themselves.</p><p><strong>Multiball! Artistry in the industry&rsquo;s heyday</strong></p><p>Through the decades, the pinball industry had its highs and lows. From the 1940s through most of the 1970s pinball was officially banned as illegal gambling in many of the nation&rsquo;s big cities, including New York City and Chicago. (Roger Sharpe, our historical guide, played <a href="http://gizmodo.com/how-one-perfect-shot-saved-pinball-from-being-illegal-1154267979">an instrumental role in overturning the bans</a> with a skill shot that became the stuff of pinball legend.) Although the bans were lightly enforced, they kept the industry from achieving its full potential. Then, in the mid-1970s, the bans were lifted, and The Who&rsquo;s pinball rock opera <em>Tommy </em>was made into a major motion picture. At this point, pinball found a place in the mainstream culture, and the industry entered into a full-blown heyday.</p><p>As the industry thrived, the graphic artists who designed the backglasses and the playfields developed a detail-rich pinball aesthetic. While Chicago has many important cultural contributions, it has a unique monopoly on pinball art. The art blended the bawdy imagery of <em>Playboy </em>magazine (based in Chicago at the time) with the garish colors of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619">Riverview amusement park</a>; before it was closed in 1967, Riverview had shared the same neighborhood as many pinball manufacturers.</p><p>Even Chicago&rsquo;s weather made it on to some machines. Greg Freres, celebrated pinball artist, worked on the <em>Harlem Globetrotters</em> machine during the notorious winter of 1979 &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637#misery">one of the city&rsquo;s worst</a>. Freres included a splotch of white paint next to Lake Michigan in honor of Chicago&rsquo;s snow on the Globetrotters&rsquo; globe.<a name="presentation"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="367" mozallowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/15JGIGwSQW2F_J4759VDr3g6QyXrNWBNbVrTyoW21rxI/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>While the industry lost some ground to video game machines through the 80s, it continued to be successful. The most popular pinball machine of all time, for example, was <em>The Addam&rsquo;s Family</em>; it wasn&rsquo;t released until 1992.</p><p>By the close of the decade, however, pinball was in a verifiable slump. WMS, the corporate successor to the company founded by desinger Harry Williams, lost $4 million on its pinball division in 1998 alone. The company gave its pinball team one last shot to reinvigorate pinball. The team developed <em>Pinball 2000</em>, a hybrid of video games and pinball featuring holographic aliens. Despite the machine&rsquo;s relative success and a promo video complete with kooky narration from Chicago radio legend Ken Nordine, the corporate bosses at WMS shut down their pinball division to focus on growing profits in the slot machine industry. By the dawn of the 21st century, only one manufacturer of pinball machines remained in Chicago, and the world.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/UUSzSHNEv2g?rel=0" width="480"></iframe></p><p><strong>Extra game? Pinball Perseveres</strong></p><p>But pinball didn&rsquo;t end there. That last company, Stern Pinball, continues to develop and manufacture pinball machines in west suburban Melrose Park. (A New Jersey-based company just released a <em>Wizard of Oz</em> pinball machine, but Stern is the only company that regularly releases new machines and distributes them widely.) Company CEO Gary Stern has been in the pinball industry since he was a small child accompanying his father, a business partner of Harry Williams, on factory visits. While the access to materials, labor, and distribution that made Chicago an ideal location for pinball&rsquo;s beginnings remain, Stern says another element is keeping the surviving industry here.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re here, because we&rsquo;re here,&rdquo; Stern puts it plainly. That is, a community of pinball designers, engineers, and specialists live in the Chicago area, and many of them remain dedicated to the pinball craft.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gary Stern resized.jpeg" style="height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="Stern Pinball CEO Gary Stern poses with question-asker Kevin Schramer and some of his company’s machines. Stern has worked in the pinball industry for more than 50 years. (WBEZ/Mickey Capper)" />Jim Shird is one of those specialists working at Stern. He has designed the wiring in pinball machines since the 1990s and has been playing pinball since he was a kid, when he would win free pizzas every week from a local pizza place&rsquo;s pinball competition.</p><p>Pinball&rsquo;s popularity has diminished to the point where it&rsquo;s most visible in the shadowy corners of dive bars. But still, Shird remains optimistic. These days, when he finishes work at Stern, he heads straight to <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Logan+Hardware+Arcade+Bar/@41.92504,-87.688184,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x70e42de27f7ec47f">Logan Arcade</a>, one of Chicago&rsquo;s many new arcade bars, to maintain (and play) the bar&rsquo;s pinball collection.</p><p>He is, after all, a pinball person and he gets to spend his life with pinball machines.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyday is different, everyday is interesting, everyday is an adventure, and everyday is fun,&rdquo; Shird says with a smile. &ldquo;I get to play pinball everyday.&rdquo;<a name="map"></a></p><p><iframe height="480" src="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/1/embed?mid=zo79HXq-4bn0.kCzXX8JiSVjA" width="640"></iframe></p><p><em>(Want to play pinball? This map includes all Chicago area venues with 3 or more pinball machines. More information is available at <a href="http://pinballmap.com/chicago">PinballMap.com</a>.)</em></p><p><strong>Our question comes from: Kevin Schramer</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kevin resize.jpeg" style="width: 225px; height: 300px; float: right;" title="Kevin Schramer plays his pinball machines with his family. Kevin’s question began this investigation. (WBEZ/Mickey Capper)" /></p><p>This story about Chicago pinball begins with our &ldquo;Player 1,&rdquo; Kevin Schramer. Kevin says he&rsquo;s loved the colors and sounds of pinball since he was a kid in the 1970s. He first saw pinball at Funway, a family entertainment center &nbsp;in west suburban Batavia.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had a pocket full of quarters you were all set,&rdquo; Kevin remembers.</p><p>Today, Kevin no longer needs quarters; he has a row of four vintage pinball machines in the dining room of his home in Winfield, Ill. His family plays the machines too, and he is currently in the midst of an extended battle with his sons over his machines&#39; high scores.</p><p><em>Mickey Capper is a freelance audio producer. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/FMcapper">@FMcapper</a></em></p></p> Tue, 13 May 2014 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/jackpot-chicagos-hold-pinball-industry-and-artistry-110175 The 'fountain of youth' at Schiller Woods http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fountain-youth-schiller-woods-110099 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DaVZUfKT2d0?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/151751087&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe><em>Editor&#39;s note: The radio story about the Schiller Woods water pump begins at 8 minutes and 40 seconds in this audio file above.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Curious City recently got two very similar questions about a peculiar pump in the Schiller Woods Forest Preserve, about one mile east of Chicago&rsquo;s O&rsquo;Hare International Airport.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/leslie treece FOR WEB.jpg" style="height: 132px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Leslie Treece, who drives by the Schiller Woods pump weekly. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />&ldquo;We pass by it all the time, and there&rsquo;s always a line with people filling up jugs and jugs and jugs of water,&rdquo; said Leslie Treece, a 43-year-old dance teacher from the Portage Park neighborhood. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re thinking we&rsquo;re missing something. What&rsquo;s going on? Are we not clued in to something special?&rdquo;</p><p>Larry Powers, 70, also sees people flocking to the pump on West Irving Park Road while he&rsquo;s traveling from his home in Oak Park to play handball in Des Plaines.</p><p>United by thirst for answers &mdash; if not actual water &mdash; both Larry and Leslie asked us versions of this basic question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s so special about the water in Schiller Woods?</em></p><p>When we first met Leslie and Larry, neither had tried the water, but neither had they had the opportunity to hear directly from people who draw from the pump.</p><p>We brought the two together for a&nbsp;<a href="http://youtu.be/DaVZUfKT2d0" target="_blank">video shoot</a> to face the pump and the hard truth: that the answer to whether there&rsquo;s something special in the park&rsquo;s well water depends on who you ask.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/larry FOR WEB.jpg" style="height: 133px; width: 200px; float: right;" title="Larry Powers, who's been curious about the water pump for over 40 years. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p><strong>The official line</strong></p><p>From the perspective of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, it&rsquo;s certainly their most popular pump. In fact, FPDCC Maintenance Supervisor Len Dufkis said they have to repair the creaky metal apparatus every year, or about ten times more often than the rest of district&rsquo;s 212 water pumps. Its allure goes back to 1945, when the pump was first installed.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s many myths, legends, stories &mdash; that this is holy water, this has medicinal qualities to it &mdash; you name it, people have said it,&rdquo; Dufkis said.</p><p>If, as some people claim, the pump taps into a fountain of youth, it&rsquo;s of the <em>Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade</em> variety; &nbsp;the pump itself is nondescript, even a little shoddy-looking. Its metal piping rises about four feet out of the ground, a long handle protruding out towards the paved walkway that connects it to Irving Park Road. Its piston rattles and squeaks as it pumps clear water from a spigot a few feet off the ground.</p><p>So what&rsquo;s special about it, chemically? The water, which comes from an aquifer that begins some 31 feet below ground, is very hard &mdash; about 19 grains per gallon, according to a free testing service at Home Depot. That means its mineral content is off the charts compared to tap water, but it&rsquo;s typical for well water.</p><p>Len Dufkis, who maintains the Forest Preserve&rsquo;s pumps, said the Illinois Department of Public Health tests the water every six months for potentially harmful bacteria, but they don&#39;t delve into its chemical profile. Ten years ago, however, the Forest Preserve did. They found an unusually low iron content in this particular water, which may distinguish it from similar groundwater. But it still doesn&rsquo;t explain why just across the street another pump that draws from the same aquifer fails to draw the crowds.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Image1_3.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The particular well, known as the Fountain of Youth, is just west of the model airplane flying field in Schiller Woods Forest Preserve. " /></p><p><strong>How does it taste?</strong></p><p>No matter the weather or time of day, it seems, someone is crouched at the pump, collecting water from the spout.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve lived here since 1972, and since then that pump is constantly in use, no matter what the weather,&rdquo; said Larry Szlendak, 64, who moved to the nearby village of Harwood Heights from Bialystok, Poland. &nbsp;</p><p>He started drinking Schiller Woods a few years later.</p><p>Szlendak said the water&rsquo;s mineral taste reminds him of well water he&rsquo;s had in Colorado and in his native Poland. He speculates that might be why many evangelists of Schiller Woods water were born in Eastern Europe, Latin America, or other regions where well water is more common.</p><p>(Interestingly, of the water&rsquo;s supposedly special powers, Szlendak said he once watered half of his plants with Schiller Woods water and half with tap water. He claims the plants with Schiller water grew much better.)<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pump%20wide%20shot%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 214px; width: 350px;" title="The water is drawn from an underground aquifer and is a trace bit low on iron. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></p><p>Neil Parker, who grew up in suburban Detroit, also pegged the taste to childhood memories of feeling close to the land.</p><p>&ldquo;This reminds me of growing up,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The flavors, it tastes like when you&rsquo;re camping.&rdquo;</p><p>Most Chicago-area tap water comes from Lake Michigan. It&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/water/supp_info/education/water_treatment.html">filtered and treated</a> with several chemicals typical to drinking water treatment processes in the United States, including chlorine and fluoride. Almost two-thirds of Americans drink fluoridated water,&nbsp;<a href="http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/fluoride.cfm">which since 1945 has helped prevent tooth decay</a> in what The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called &ldquo;one of 10 great public achievements of the 20th century.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/media/magazine/articles/29-2-pipe-dreams-americas-fluoride-controversy.aspx">Its use remains controversial among some communities</a>, however, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/17/water-fluoridation">several European countries have stopped fluorides under public pressure</a>. Several of the people I talked to at the Schiller Woods pump cited its lack of fluoride as a major motivation for their stockpile of water cooler jugs.</p><p><strong>Water with a reputation</strong></p><p>Word travels fast among well water drinkers, so most people learn about the pump via personal recommendation.</p><p>Others, though, used the Internet to find the Schiller Woods pump. Nick and Sue Chervinko, originally from suburban Cicero and Niles respectively, were among several people who mentioned <a href="http://www.findaspring.com/locations/north-america/usa/fountain-of-youth-shiller-park-il/">FindaSpring.com</a> &mdash; a website that lists this pump as one of only two sources of spring water in the area. (Waterfall Glenn Well in Lemont, Ill. is the other.)</p><p>But in addition to that online following, the pump also fosters a tangible sense of community. Polish-born Elizabeth Osika said she&rsquo;s made many friends while waiting in line for Schiller Woods water.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like recreation for me,&rdquo; said Osika, who came from Elmhurst to fill up a basketful of plastic jugs. &ldquo;You talk to people waiting in line. We make friends here.&rdquo;</p><p>While we were talking, Osika chatted up two more Polish pump-water enthusiasts who had queued up. She looked at one man toting several plastic bottles and empty gallon jugs and asked, disbelievingly, &ldquo;That&rsquo;s all you have?&rdquo;</p><p>The man, who gave his name only as Rajmund, said he moved to Chicago from Poland 15 years ago and started drinking Schiller Woods spring water soon after. Rajmund said he&rsquo;s seen truck drivers stop off to fill up water bottles for the road.</p><p>Question asker Leslie Treece filled up a bottle, too, before driving off. With her husband John, Leslie said they used to tease their son Jack Gitschlag, saying the water could cure his sunburns. Larry Powers, who also asked us about the water, was similarly impressed.</p><p>Having tried the water, our question askers aren&rsquo;t sold on its youth-giving properties. But they do like the taste.</p><p>&ldquo;I was pleasantly surprised,&rdquo; Leslie said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to stop from now on, and maybe get a bigger jug.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City, and a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 13:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fountain-youth-schiller-woods-110099 Chicago garbage collectors: Will they really take that? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140433257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>WBEZ listener Ken Coulman has been having dirty thoughts, specifically regarding the garbage in his alleyway. He&rsquo;s seen all kinds of dumping habits, from random contractors offloading items behind his house to neighbors sneakily leaving oversized items in alleyways not their own. In their stealthy haste, they make a mess.</p><p>As a homeowner in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood, these behaviors troubled Ken. Recently, when he spotted a stack of old tires piled by the garbage, he called Curious City with this question:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ken_curiouscity.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 200px; float: right;" title="Ken Coulman asked Curious City about the limits of garbage removal. (Photo courtesy Ken Coulman)" /></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s the city&rsquo;s official policy on garbage pick up? Do they take anything that you put out?</em></p><p>While taking on Ken&rsquo;s question, we learned that a pretty straightforward pickup policy provides some city workers with a unique &mdash; and sometimes unflattering &mdash; view of life in Chicago.</p><p><strong>Size doesn&rsquo;t matter</strong></p><p>For our answer, we turned to Gloria Pittman, a supervisor at Chicago&rsquo;s Bureau of Sanitation, which serves 600,000 households in Chicago. These households are limited to single-family homes or buildings with four units or less. Pittman oversees garbage collection for seven wards from Pilsen to Jackson Park. She&rsquo;s previously worked on the front lines as a garbage collector herself.</p><p>We met Pittman at her office on the Southwest Side and asked Ken&rsquo;s question: Is there a limit to what you&rsquo;ll take?</p><p>&ldquo;We will pick up almost anything,&rdquo; Pittman said. &ldquo;It is our objective to pick up everything that&rsquo;s in front of the truck, be it trash, sofas, on occasion electronics such as refrigerators, stoves.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, size doesn&rsquo;t matter. There&rsquo;s no size limit to what residents are allowed to throw out, as long as it&rsquo;s regular household garbage.</p><p>The department accommodates big items with what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;a special pick up.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s simply a heads-up to garbage collectors to carve out more time. While picking up a few regular canisters outside one house takes about 30 seconds, disposing of something more sizable, like a sectional couch, may take a few minutes. That heads-up can help make the process more efficient.</p><p>Pittman said collectors are usually notified by supervisors who monitor the alleys. But preferably, the notification originates from residents who call Chicago&rsquo;s 311 service line. Pittman says you can <a href="https://servicerequest.cityofchicago.org/web_intake_chic/Controller?op=locform&amp;invSRType=SCC&amp;invSRDesc=Garbage%20Pickup&amp;locreq=Y">request additional garbage bins</a> online, if need be.</p><p>&ldquo;Notification from the resident really helps us out a great deal,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p>Chicagoans in the tattling mood can also help by <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/streets_san/svcs/sanitation_ordinance.html">reporting persistent sanitation code violations</a>.</p><p><strong>Down in&nbsp;the dumps &hellip; at a special collection</strong></p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+2.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" /><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+1.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; margin: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; float: right;" /></p><p>To see how a regular pick-up differs from a special pick-up, we ventured into the back alleys in Chicago&#39;s Gage Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+3.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" />A blue sanitation truck rolled through a snow-covered alley. Two workers hooked trash bins onto something called &ldquo;the flip,&rdquo; which, as its name implies, flips bins upside down into the truck. A heavy blade crushed and scooped the trash into the inner chamber.</p><p>Hook. Flip. Crush. Repeat.</p><div>The workers had a nice rhythm &mdash; until they ran across what looked like the remnants of an extreme home makeover. Pittman was on site and surveyed the heap of furniture.</div><p>&ldquo;This is a loveseat, a desk, parts of a table, an end table, a couple mattresses, some chairs and an ottoman,&rdquo; she said, laughing.</p><p>The garbage collectors declined an interview. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of dangerous when I talk and work,&rdquo; said one as he reached for a piece of furniture.</p><p>And he was right. There was heavy lifting to do. A crushing blade tore through wood and nails. Sharp debris spit out the back. I watched a mattress flop into the back of the truck. It splintered into pieces.</p><p>&ldquo;And as you see, the blade is breaking that up and taking it on in,&rdquo; Pittman observed. &ldquo;It basically makes room as it goes along.&rdquo;</p><p>Eight minutes later, it&rsquo;s all been gobbled up.</p><p>&ldquo;As you can see, everything is gone. Hopefully the residents are happy,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p><strong>Some limits do apply</strong></p><p>Even though there&rsquo;s no size limit, Pittman noted that there are other kinds of limits. Most Chicago residents think, &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s garbage to you, it should be garbage to us,&rdquo; but that&rsquo;s simply not the case, she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pittman%20mug%20shot.png" style="float: left; height: 162px; width: 240px;" title="Gloria Pittman supervises trash collection for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, and was a previous garbage collector. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />For example, say you rehab a room by yourself. You can throw the debris in the garbage. It&rsquo;s no problem, at least when it comes to city policy. But if a contractor does it for you, that contractor is required to take away the refuse. But not all residents abide by that rule; Pittman has seen plenty of instances where an entire gut renovation has been dumped in an alley. In those cases, the department has a conversation with the resident.</p><p>&ldquo;We try not to fine,&rdquo; said Pittman, noting that the department focuses on communicating expectations with residents. &ldquo;We want compliance.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a hassle when residents don&rsquo;t bag their trash properly. &ldquo;When they have to clean up things that people have just thrown out willy nilly &mdash; that kind of breaks up their rhythm,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Another problem is fly dumping. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where a large truck or car has dumped a large amount of garbage &mdash; usually in desolate areas,&rdquo; explained Pittman.</p><p>The Bureau of Sanitation will not collect hazardous materials and certain electronics such as computers and cell phones. Residents can dispose of these items, such as household cleaners and oil-based paints, at the city&rsquo;s Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility. The city provides information about <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/hccrf/household_chemicalscomputerrecyclingfacilityoverview.html">that facility and what it accepts</a>.</p><p>The worst thing Pittman&rsquo;s ever run across? Dead animals and human waste. Pittman said residents with dead pets should call 311; a refrigerated truck will do the pick up. And as for human waste, well, come on now.</p><p>Pittman let us in on one of the classic jokes among garbage collectors. &ldquo;You can find out a lot about people with the trash that they throw out.&rdquo;<a name="pittmanguide"></a></p><p><strong>A reason for hope</strong></p><p>I followed up with our question-asker, Ken Coulman, to get his reaction to all of this. The dead animal and human waste details certainly grossed him out.</p><p>&ldquo;Eeh &hellip; that&rsquo;s not cool,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But when I explained the no-size limit policy, he was surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not at all what I was expecting to find out,&rdquo; he said after a long pause.</p><p>He was also relieved.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s very interesting because I&rsquo;ve always kind of felt like you&rsquo;re probably doing something illegal by putting those big items out there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s helpful to know that you don&rsquo;t need to be sneaky about it. You can call 311 and give them a heads up and be civil about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To Ken, this is good news. He hopes that now that people know they don&rsquo;t have to be sneaky, they&rsquo;ll stop being so sloppy.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s hoping, Ken.</p><p><em>Deborah Jian Lee is a freelance journalist and author. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/deborahjianlee">@deborahjianlee</a>.</em></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.298379093615614" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="2078" id="doc_31924" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/213213263/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-18roq0sks1i1w0u8ngou&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881